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Nepal: PM Pledges to Ban Dowry System, Criminalize Caste-Based Discrimination

(Feb. 2, 2009) It was reported on January 26, 2009, that Nepal's Prime Minister, the Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dhal, known as Prachanda (“the fierce one”), had announced his government's intention to ban the dowry system and to criminalize caste-based discrimination. There has apparently been a surge in dowry-related violence against women over the last few months, since the Maoists were swept into office in April 2008 elections, despite the new government's promise “to transform Nepalese society.” The Prime Minister stated, “[a] week from today, (the) dowry system will be completely banned. (Those) who give or take dowry will be severely punished as by the law.” (Nepal Bans Dowry System, BRISBANE TIMES, Jan. 26, 2009, available at
.) Prachanda termed caste-based discrimination against Dalits (untouchables), said to comprise 14 percent of the country's population of 27 million, “inhuman” and a “national shame,” adding, “[u]ntouchability is a heinous social crime and stern actions will be taken against the offenders by amending the law if necessary.” (Id.)